Snap ‘Em Outta That Funk

On Not Always Right, a submitter tells the story of how they turned a cranky regular into a smooth customer. The submitter, who works at a sandwich shop, admits from the start that she “pretty much hates” the customer, who frequently snaps and groans. But one day when she sees him coming, “instead of bracing for the worst, I physically relax myself and put on a big, tired smile.”

“I’m glad you’re the next customer… you’re pretty low key when someone messes up because you totally get that it’s not on purpose… I’m just glad I’ve got a pleasant friendly face to deal with right now. You’re one of my easy customers, and I appreciate it.

The submitter admits she is lying, but her words have the desired effect anyway. “Every other time after that he came in, he WAS, FOR REAL, the most low-key, pleasant customer I had.”

She changed the customer’s attitude towards her by telling him that he was low-key, friendly, and pleasant. The customer then saw himself as low-key, friendly, and pleasant, and changed his behavior to match his new perception of himself. It’s a case of the Benjamin Franklin Effect in action.


The title of the story on Not Always Right is, “It’s a Retail Thing,” but I would argue that it’s an education thing, too. I can’t be the only teacher ever to turn a disruptive student into an trusted one by giving them extra responsibilities around the classroom. Or to help a struggling student keep going by telling them how impressed I am with their persistence.

How have you used the Benjamin Franklin Effect to help you out in your classroom management?

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